Arsenal – Episode Review

By Episode Review, Season 3 No Comments

ARSENAL

Airdates: June 28th, September 20, 1962
Written by John Mantley
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Produced by Lloyd Richards
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Co-starring Bruce Gordon, George Mathews, Salome Gens, Kevin Hagen. Featuring Johnny Seven, Robert J. Wilke, Karl Svenson, K. L. Smith,
Stanley Ferrar

“Chicago, 1929; the golden age of crime. You needed a police permit to buy a single shot revolver, but you could buy the most lethal hand weapon ever conceived by man at any hardware or sporting goods store.”

Following the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, the government moves to restrict the sale of automatic weapons. Ness descends on the underworld to strip the rival Capone and Moran gangs of their Thompson submachine guns, but Nitti discovers that Jan Tobek (Kevin Hagen), an immigrant master machinist, can make them from raw materials.

Tobek is talked into making machine guns by his cousin, Stanley Zolinsky (Karl Svenson), after Zolinsky approaches Nitti with a semi-automatic weapon that Tobek had cobbled together from an old Army rifle. Zolinsky leads Tobek into believing that the law restricting machine guns will soon be lifted and that the man he sold the gun to wants to enter into competition with the Thompson manufacturer.

But the gun Zolinsky sold to Nitti ultimately turns up in one of Ness’s raids, and federal agents manage to trace it back to Tobek, who is unnerved by the idea of supplying gangsters. Desperate for machine guns to protect his interests, Nitti sends Matt Malloy (George Matthews) and Lefty (Johnny Seven) back to Tobrek where they force him to agree to terms by threatening his pregnant wife (Solome Jens

While a restrained relationship of sorts develops between Malloy and the
Tobeks, a rift develops between Malloy and Lefty over the treatment of their hosts. Malloy prevails, and the guns are soon finished, but Nitti, wishing to cover his tracks, orders Malloy to do away with the Tobeks. Through a tap on the Tobek’s phone, Hobson intercepts the order and alerts Ness. While Malloy pleads with the Tobeks to run for their lives, Hobson bursts in. Following a brief exchange, Malloy is killed and Ness arrives in time to intercept the shipment.

“The seizure of twelve submachine guns did not stop the trail of death, but from the time of the Untouchables’ first raid on the gangland arsenal, the federal government estimated there were never more than eight of these guns in the hands of the entire underworld at any one time.”

REVIEW

Arsenal is an extremely unlikely story, but that does not prevent it from being interesting- There hasn’t been this much gunpowder in a single episode, most of it shot off in the first fifteen minutes, since Ma Barker and Her Boys three years earlier.

Writer John Mantley reaches all the way back to probably the earliest date featured in the series to unearth this item that treats the submachine gun as one of the lead characters. Designed for trench warfare in 1917, but manufactured too late to be useful in World War I, the Thompson submachine gun, variously called Tommy-guns, Chicago typewriters, and the name preferred by writers of the series: The Chopper, became commercially available as early as 1921.

It was freely employed by gangsters for nearly a decade until the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, whereupon the government belatedly awoke to smell the gunpowder.

In a fit of forgivable dramatic license, Mantley moves the discovery of the Thompson’s usefulness in settling underworld disputes all the way back to conveniently back to 1929, the year Eliot Ness formed his squad. Lined up on Nitti’s conference table rests a half dozen Choppers, all nefarious eyes aglow at the new firepower suddenly available. Matt Malloy encourages Nitti to tum the pit bulls loose. After Nitti eloquently advises his men to “use ’em.”

Winchell elaborates:

“…The weeks following were the bloodiest in the history of Chicago. The city reeled as the Capone mob struck again and again at Bugs Moran’s north side empire. It was climaxed on the morning of February 14th, 1929, with the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. The nation came to its feet in horror. On February 15th, Capone flew straight to Miami and left his Enforcer Frank Nitti, in charge of the organization and on a spot…”

While Winchell carries on, scenes from five previous episodes involving the use of machine guns roar across the screen including a clip filmed for The Masterpiece, where eight gentlemen lay decisive waste to a hotel lobby. A minute or two later, in a new sequence, Nitti and his boys run for cover as two cars pass by, Thompsons ablaze, leaving the mob’s headquarters with no windows and a lot of damaged woodwork.

In case anyone had forgotten, this is what The Untouchables was all about. It was still very much gangsterama supremo. The only variation is the idea that a Polish immigrant could manufacture a dozen, factory-fresh Chicago typewriters from raw materials in his basement  – in a couple of weeks with the mob breathing down his neck and abusing his pregnant wife. One of Mantley’s more inventive scripts.

QUOTES

x

OBSERVATIONS

x

GALLERY

The Contract – Episode Review

By Episode Review, Season 3

THE CONTRACT

Airdates: May 31st and September 6th, 1962 
Written by George Eckstein
Directed by Bernard L. Kowalski
Produced by Del Reisman
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Co-starring Gloria Talbot, Frank Sutton, John Larkin
Special Guest Star Harry Guardino
Featuring Kelly Thordsen, Dick Haynes, Oscar Beregi, Lane Bradford, Michael Barrier, Paul Baxley

“On February 4th, 1934, three months of intensive investigation by Eliot Ness and the Untouchables paid off suddenly. In a Lower East Side tenement in New York City, a cheap hoodlum named Smiley Barris was being run to earth.”

Smiley Barris (Frank Sutton) is a wanted man on the run from both sides. Eliot Ness knows Smiley can blow the lid off the New York Syndicate, and Joe Kulak (Oscar Beregi), head of the East Coast cartel, sends two assassins to take him out.

When the second attempt fails, Smiley phones his long-time friend Johnny Templar (Harry Guardino) in California to bail him out. When Kulak gets wind of Smiley’s move, he assigns Quist (John Larkin) to ferret him out. A methodical killer, Quist relishes the opportunity.

Arriving on the West Coast, Smiley heads for Templar’s plush gambling ship moored off Santa Monica in international waters. About to wed a young socialite, and hoping to get out of the rackets altogether, Templar nevertheless agrees to hide Smiley. But soon Quist appears, followed by Ness and his men, and both sides apply pressure on Templar to produce Smiley. Templar resists and smuggles him to a hotel in Los Angeles. Ness has Templar’s phones tapped and assigns Rossi to follow him.

Knowing Templar is hiding Smiley, Kulak phones Templar and reassigns the contract – to Smiley’s best friend: John Templar. Suddenly, he is faced with the prospect of either killing Smiley, or being killed himself, and despite pleas from his fiancee (Gloria Talbot), he sets Smiley up at an abandoned club to proceed with the hit. Smiley, meanwhile, has come to terms with his position and the trouble he has wrought. He begs Templar to kill him.

Last, Templar reports back to Quist with Smiley’s personal effects, but Quist, unconvinced that Smiley is dead, demands that he produce the body. Templar agrees and requests that Quist meet him later at the abandoned club.

Quist decides to pursue his own course and follows Templar’s fiancee. When she picks Smiley up at his hotel, Quist is not far behind. Seizing the opportunity, Quist fires at their car, killing Lauder, but Smiley escapes back to the club. Ness arrives to break the bad news to Templar, who then agrees to tum Smiley over to the police, but on his terms. Ness initially agrees, but hoping to prevent another killing, he has police check for the location of the abandoned club known as the Melrose Hide Out.

Confronting Quist with a pistol at the Hide Out, Templar relishes his moment of revenge. But suddenly, Smiley appears, and in a burst of confusion, Quist shoots Templar with a gun he had hidden under the trenchcoat draped across his arm.

Templar, mortally wounded, goes down firing as arrives Smiley jumps on Quist and disarms him just as Ness arrives, forcing Ness to lament that they “should have been a few minutes late.” Before being led away, complete Smiley the pauses contract. to pay his last respects to his friend who died rather than complete the contract.

“The testimony of Smiley Barris spelled the beginning of the end for Kulak’s murderous empire. Smiley himself died in prison in 1951. As for Johnny Templar, he had gotten his wish – he was out of the rackets.”

REVIEW

Well-written and finely executed, The Contract is the high point of drama and suspense for the third season. It is clearly George Eckstein’s best work for the series and perhaps the finest performance for Harry Guardino, rivaling his first appearance in One-Armed Bandits in the premier season.

More the saga of die-hard friendship than anything else, The Contract is made memorable by friendless Quist, John Larkin’s demure assassin with the perpetual sneer. Quist is the perfect Untouchables assassin. He has but a single attitude: precision ruthelessness. That he survived Smiley’s attack is almost in error; he truly deserved to die poetically in the hands of his victim. But Quist’s death would have jacked up the body count to five killings for the hour, more than enough to give even ABC executives pause.

Easily the most gripping moment arrives near the end when Smiley begs Templar to go ahead and put him out of his misery. Templar slaps Smiley to the floor, points a large .45 automatic to his bed and begs of Smiley “don’t make me do it.” He doesn’t.

The only awkward scene involves the drive-by shooting in which Templar’s fiancee is killed. Quist gets off too many shots faster than one can pull a trigger and Gloria Talbot’s death comes off like a theatrical swoon. It’s simply unconvincing. It is the only weak moment in an otherwise intensely developed story rich in Eckstein’s wise-cracking dialog and just enough hateful characters.

QUOTES

x

OBSERVATIONS

x

GALLERY

The Ginnie Littlesmith Story – Episode Review

By Episode Review, Season 3

THE GINNIE LITTLESMITH STORY

Airdate: May 17th, 1962
Written by Leonard Kantor
Produced and Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Co-starring Brook Byron, Don Gordon
Special Guest Star Phyllis Love
Featuring John McCliam, Harry Swoger, Marlene Callahan, Leonard Strong, Toni Tucci, Barnaby Hale, Jeno Mate, Barbara Pepper, Linda Evans.

“May 17, 1932. Free soup kitchens were a common sight on the streets of the depression-ridden country. But this one, located in Chicago’s skid row area, was not the usual kind. This soup kitchen was the false front of a luxurious illicit establishment run by twice-convicted white slaver Chiz Goshen. Goshen’s partners, a powerful nationwide vice ring known as ‘the Group,’ were represented at Goshen’s place by Bick Cassandras. Bick’s record of arrests began with penny ante misdemeanors and ended with big-time crime.” Read More

The Case Against Eliot Ness – Episode Review

By Episode Review, Season 3

THE CASE AGAINST ELIOT NESS

Airdate: May 10th, 1962
Written by George Eckstein
Directed by Bernard L. Kowalski
Produced by Del Reisman
Director of Photography
Co-starring Bruce Gordon, Jeanne Cooper
Special Guest Star Pat Hingle
Featuring Cliff Camell, Frank Wilcox, Joseph Turkel, Shirley
Ira, Bruce Anderson, Robert Palmer, George Murdoch, Robert Bice, Bruno Ve Sota, Ed Tontini, Chris Carter, Sid Haig, Martin Clark

“In 1933, the City of Chicago became 100 years old. To celebrate the occasion Chicago planned a birthday party and invited the world. The name given to the festivities was the Century Of Progress. In other parts of Chicago however, the civic anniversary was being celebrated in a different manner. On the night of March 4th, 1933, the three Endicott brothers, the joint holders of various franchises at the Century of Progress, spent their last night on Earth.” Read More

The Silent Partner – Episode Review

By Episode Review, Season 3

THE SILENT PARTNER

Airdate: February 1st, 1962
Written by Harry Kronman
Directed by Abner Biberman
Produced by Lloyd Richards
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Co-starring Allyn Joslyn, Dyan Cannon, Bert Convey
Special Guest Star Charles McGraw
Featuring Stewart Bradley, Stanley Kahn, John Milford, Tim Graham, Sydney Smith, and “The Partner”

“Through most of the violent prohibition years, the hottest spot in Chicago, and a must to anybody who was anybody, was the Club Tunisian, a rendezvous where the leaders of society and the lords of crime rubbed elbows in mutual admiration and paid a king’s ransom to see and be seen.” Read More

The Gang War – Episode Review

By Episode Review, Season 3

THE GANG WAR

Airdate: January 18th and May 24th, 1962 Written by John Mantley Directed by Paul Wendkos Produced by Lloyd Richards Director of Photography Charles Straumer Co-starring Victor Buono, Bruce Gonion, John Kellogg Featuring Ed Nelson, Joe di Reda, Peter Forster, Anne Whitfield, David Faulkner, Paul Birch, Claudia Bryar, Dal McKennon, Wayne Heffley, Paul Dubov, Lou Krugman

“Prohibition, 1932. The City of Chicago was consuming alcohol at the rate of 32 million gallons a year. These figures are incredible, but they are documented: 86,000 gallons a day. It was manufactured in everything from massive distilleries to grimy bathtubs. It came into the brawling city by truck and motor car, by pop bottles and pipeline. All of it was illegal. Most of it was bad. Some of it was poison. A mere trickle, less than 1 % of this staggering total was the finest liquor money could buy, the purest Scotch and rye whisky. It came from Canada. For the speakeasy proprietor, who would assure the silk stocking trade of a steady supply of imported Scotch, the rewards were enormous, but the risks were even greater.”

Read More

The Canada Run – Episode Review

By Episode Review, Season 3

THE CANADA RUN

Airdate: January 4th, 1962 
Teleplay by Barry Trivers and Harry Kronman
Story by Barry Trivers
Directed by Bernard McEveety, Jr.
Produced by Lloyd Richards
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Special Guest Star Simon Oakland
Co-starring Arthur Hill, Bruce Gordon.
Featuring Dabbs Greer, John Alderson, Than Wyenn, Michael Hinn, Paul Bryar, Gene Roth. 

“On a cold November afternoon in 1932, The Chicago Bears ran the opposition dizzy, bringing to the Windy City, the professional football championship of the world. Beneath the stands, a different kind of game was being played, for much higher stakes. The contestants: Joe Palakopoulos, offense; Danny Cougan, defense. Cougan was a cautious man, always accompanied by his bodyguard. But today, he did not hear the opening whistle.”  Read More

City Without a Name – Episode Review

By Episode Review, Season 3

CITY WITHOUT A NAME

Airdate: December 14, 1961 
Written by John Mantley
Directed by Paul Wendkos
Produced by Lloyd Richards
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Co-starring Paul Richards, Mike Kellin, Bruce Gordon
Featuring Theodore Marcuse, George Keymas, Vic Perrin, Joseph Breen, Harvey Stephens, William Boylett

“1933; the most violent era in the history of America. Chicago exploding with crime; New York, a city of terror. St. Louis, Detroit, New Orleans, Kansas City, and almost every big town across the country, corruption, and violence were reaching an all-time high. The outstanding exception: an Eastern seaboard metropolis which even now must remain unnamed. A city which had used the ballot box to blast corruption out of public office. Federal agent Arnold Weybright had managed to keep the bloody finger of organized crime out of the city without a name, but, at 9:42 AM October, 22nd…”
Read More

Mankiller – Episode Review

By Episode Review, Season 3

MANKILLER

Airdate: December 7th, 1961 
Written by Sy Salkowitz
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Executive Producer Alan Armer
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Special Guest Star Ruth Roman
Co-starring Bruce Gordon, Anne Helm
Featuring Grant Richards, Mario Gallo, Mario Alcalde, Jay Adler, Joe Scott

”In July of 1934, acting on a series of telephone tips, Eliot Ness and the Untouchables, with the cooperation of local police, moved in on Chicago’s narcotics racket. The illegal sale of dope was slowly being strangled. Despite the continued fall-off in sales, on August 4th, Frank Nitti prepared to receive fifteen kilos of heroin, the largest shipment of narcotics ever to be imported at a single time.” Read More

Jigsaw – Episode Review

By Episode Review, Season 3

JIGSAW

Airdates: November 23rd, 1961 and June 7th, 1962
Written by George Eckstein
Directed by Paul Wendkos
Produced by Del Reisman
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Special Guest Star James Gregory
Co-starring Bruce Gordon, Cloris Leachman
Featuring Bernard Fein, Joe Perry, Alan Baxter

”At 11:30 on the night of September 14th, 1932, after the completion of a successful speakeasy raid, Eliot Ness visited the Odeon Theater. His purpose was not entertainment.” Read More